On Sunday afternoons
He would escape with her,
To a lay-by where rocky outcrops
Ran like mascara down the hillside.
Away from the Battenberg lawn,
The spotless rooms with curtains
Drawn. Far from the silence behind
Their tight-lipped front door.
And sit awhile with windows down
Listening to Piccadilly 261 stereo 97,
The Pennine air sending him to sleep
His arm resting on the back of her seat.
One time they came to watch a distant
Chimney being felled, and when the dust
Settled saw it crumpled but defiant,
Like a giant knight on bended knee.
He remembered then how the distant chimneys
Would smoke day and night like his father,
Blue clouds curling like serpents
Round his legs, then cowering at his feet.
But he didn’t share the sound of Dad’s shoes,
And how they squeaked like an old pub sign
In a storm, when he climbed the stairs.
Some things she did not need to know.